Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

Closing Time
By Jainie
For Mercutio


A pale fist thumped the bar as Spike plunked down into a stool. The bartender didn't jump at the sound, nor did he panic at the murderous look in the blond vampire's eye. He merely nodded and turned to fetch the vamp his order.

"Well, hey, there! Haven't seen you around these parts before, am I right?" A cheery male voice said.

"Nope." Casting a sidelong glance in the direction of the voice, all Spike could see was acres and acres of green and red. Somebody had obviously taken the whole Yuletide cheer idea and run with it.

"Aww... why the long face? Or, should I say, longer face?" The green demon leaned against the bar, studying the vampire with inquisitive red eyes.

"What?" Spike asked sharply, obviously losing patience with this Kermit the Frog imitator.

"Y'know, 'bah, humbug' isn't a good look for you, honey. You've got the cheekbones. Use 'em!" Lorne sat down in the seat next to Spike, setting his drink on the bar and flipping the tail of the long, red and green knitted scarf over his shoulder. It went without saying that it clashed horribly with the pea green leisure suit, bright red silk shirt and green tie - complete with clusters of holly - that he was wearing. "I wish I had the cheekbones," he said with a wistful sigh. "Not in the cards, I guess. I got the chin."

"Look. What the hell do you want? You lookin' for donations for the Damnation Army fund or something? If you are - I gave at the office. Piss off."

"Hey, now. No need to bark at me. Harmless Host, here," Lorne said evenly, holding up both of his hands in a yielding gesture. "This is my place. It's my sworn duty to be congenial and sickeningly cheery with the hall decking. It is Christmas, after all."

"Yeah?" The vampire had a sliver of good grace left in him, enough to look chastened. He turned his head, taking a quick look around. "S'nice."

"Thanks. We try." Crossing his left leg neatly over his right, the empathic demon favored him with a warm, genuine smile. Spike was relieved to see that Lorne's teeth weren't red, like his horns or his eyes.

The bartender was returning with his drink and as he opened his mouth to tell Spike the cost, Lorne raised his hand to silence him. "It's all right, Chico. This one's on the house. And - save my life - top me up?" He handed his Seabreeze to Chico with a winning smile. When the bartender turned to do just that, Lorne returned his attention to Spike. "So. What brings you here?"


"Big on the monosyllables tonight, aren't we, handsome?" Lorne chuckled. "So tell me all about the bewitching little vixen that went and broke your achy breaky."

"Look, I know --"

"Do you always preface everything you say with 'look'? Hmm. Must be a Brit thing," the demon commented with a shrug.

Despite the interruption, Spike forged ahead. "... you're the Host and everything, but don't you need to go... I dunno, go do... host stuff?"

"Trapper John's already done his rounds for the moment, thank you," Lorne replied. "Need to rest my weary dogs for a few before I head back out. Ahh, Chico! You are a god - thank you." He took his glass from the bartender, took a sip and let out a trilling musical hum of pleasure. "So. Talk. Tell me about your little fireball."

"She's a slayer - the Slayer," Spike muttered, picking at one corner of his coaster.

"Ohh... well, that explains a lot," Lorne said, heart twisting in sympathy. "You being a vampire and she being 'The Chosen One' and all. So is it the vampire thing or the slayer thing that's got you two kids in a bind?"

"Both? Either? I don't know, anymore," he sighed, resting his head on his right hand as his left lifted the mug of beer to his lips. He'd come to the bar to be alone, to drown in his bitterness and a pint of bitter. Not to be chatted up by lime green demons dressed like St. Nick. Still... the Host seemed to be interested in listening, in helping.

Taking a deep breath, Spike let it out, along with his reservations. "I love her. She knows I love her. We shagged! And it was good... or at least I thought it was." Spike looked up from his beer, conflicted blue eyes meeting red. "She's not had an easy time of it, I know... but she's confused and it's confusin' the hell out of me, right back."

"Okay, whoa. Hang on. Let me take a sip of my drink, here, first," Lorne paused to do just that and then placed his glass back on the bar, swiveling his stool to face Spike. "I want you to do something for me." At Spike's expectant and slightly taken aback look, he elaborated. "No, no... it's nothing like that. I want you to sing for me."

"You mean, up there, like those prats?" Spike snorted as he jerked his thumb behind him, where a three headed fish demon was up on the stage with the Karaoke mic, slaughtering some tune by K.C. and the Sunshine Band. "Like hell."

"No, I don't mean you have to go up on stage," he reassured the blond gently. "You can sing for me right here. Just hum a few bars of "Happy Birthday to You," whatever strikes your fancy."


"I can read people's minds, pick up on their emotions, see their futures... but I can only do it if they sing. That's why I built this place," Lorne swept a hand over the room. "I can kill two birds with one stone. Do a little fortune telling, give the lost souls a little direction, belt out some Aretha... and people pay me for it. You've just gotta love this dimension." He smiled, but his good cheer soon weakened when he caught the wary look the vampire was giving him. "I'm serious. If you sing... I might be able to help you? Put you on the right path?"

"The only path I'm concerned about right now, mate, is the one that takes me the hell out of here," Spike swiveled his stool and moved to climb off of it.

"Oh, come on!" The Host caught Spike by the elbow before he had a chance to get away, gently restraining him. "I bet you've got a sterling set of pipes! It's Christmas! Look at it as a present from you to me."

"I don't even know you!" He ground out, yanking his arm out of the Host's grasp.

"What difference does that make? It's all in the spirit of giving, right? Haven't you ever heard of random acts of kindness?" Lorne considered that last statement for a moment. "Well, no... I guess you wouldn't, you having the pesky daylight allergy and all."

"What do I have to sing?" Spike sighed. If he went along with it, if he sang something for the Host, maybe that would get him out of his bloody hair.

"Anything you want," Lorne said brightly as the vampire retook his seat, shoulders slouched in defeat. "Know any Partridge tunes?" Spike shot him a withering glare and moved to get up from his seat again. "No! No, no... I'm only kidding. Take a load off." He chuckled as he waved the mercurial vampire back down into his seat.

For several moments it became almost a battle of wills - cornflower blue burning into tranquil carmine - but it soon ended as Spike turned his head sharply away, pulling his gaze from Lorne's.

"That's more like it," the Host said finally, deeply relieved that the vampire was willing to let him help. "Now. Hit me with the do-re-mis."

"You said... to sing anything I want?" Spike asked, looking over to meet Lorne's eyes hesitantly.

"Yep. Like I said: anything you want. Matters not to the Powers That Be or me if you wanna belt out a verse or two by Billy Idol or gimme Stevie Nicks' entire oeuvre. I can still read what's there. It's entirely up to you."

Still frowning at the Billy Idol crack, Spike cast about helplessly, trying to think of something he could sing that would be quick and easy. The faster this whole thing was over and done with, the better.

Lorne could see the vampire's guarded eyes light up for just an instant as he thought of a song. Spike wetted his lips carefully, grabbed his mug of beer and took a quick sip, cleared his throat.

"The... first Noel... the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds, in fields as they lay..." The blond started off softly, voice barely more than a tremulous croak, but as he continued, he gained enough confidence to raise his voice. His eyes remained fixed on the bar in front of him, but he managed to press on, despite the discomfort and embarrassment radiating off of him in waves.

The Host leaned back against the bar, quietly admiring the warmth in Spike's rich baritone, eyes wandering over the blond's face as the Powers showed him what they could. With every word, they showed him a bit more - Spike's numerous sacrifices for the woman he loved, his chip, the humans he'd allied himself with and had come to feel a grudging affection for. The uncertainty and frustration he felt, not knowing where or with who he belonged or what he should do with himself. Mostly, though, Lorne saw the broken heart buried under the black leather and swagger... the heart that broke every time she turned away, every time she pushed him away.

Lorne couldn't help but cringe. He'd joked about Spike not knowing about random acts of kindness. In fact, the Powers showed him the vampire had been guilty of several. Saving lives... saving the entire world on two separate occasions. A world he had no place in.

"In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep, on a cold winter's night that was so deep... Noel, Noel... Noel, Noel... born is the King of Israel." Spike finished the verse and his downcast eyes darted up to glance at Lorne. "That enough?"

"Yeah... that's good," Lorne whispered. He was surprised to find that he'd almost been overcome by his sympathy for the vampire. "God, I just... love it when I'm right. That was wonderful."

"Uhh... thanks." Spike lifted his mug to his lips and downed the rest of his beer in one long gulp. If vampires could blush, the Host was convinced this one would be pretty in pink, after his little performance. "So?"

"Hm? Sorry?" Blinking, Lorne snapped out of his trance. "Oh. Right. Waiting for the verdict, aren't you? Well, here... Chico!" He waved the well built bartender over. "How about another beer for my compadre, here, would you, please?" Turning his eyes back to Spike, Lorne took a deep breath and let it out. "Right. Well. Here's the thing: she's got a sacred duty, your girl. And as much as you know she needs ties to keep her here... you can never be one of them. That's not to say you two can't ever be pals - and I do see you being a big help in all her rock 'em, sock 'em action-packed adventures - but... I don't suppose that's what you were hoping to hear."

Spike's dark brows furrowed and he bowed his head, but not before Lorne caught the briefest flash of pain amidst the blue.

"I'm sorry. There's nothing I hate more than being the bearer of bad tidings... and on Christmas, too. Damn." The Host grimaced. "That's the whole big hitch to being privy to the Powers' party line: I have to tell the person everything I see, even if... even if it's not all sunshine and happy flowers."

"No, it's all right. Not your fault," he said gruffly. "Gotta work with what they give ya, right?"

"Yeah. Something like that." A small, sad smile tugged at the corner of the horned demon's mouth as he regarded the blond.

"So... what now? I mean, what do I do? Just... go back?" Spike looked up at him, fathomless eyes filled with torment. "Just let things keep goin' on as they are?"

"It's what you have to do. Now... that's not to say you should let her walk all over your heart in her finest stilettos. The Powers made it very clear that you two are gonna be on even ground, from now on. Equals."

"Is that it? See anything else? Am I goin' on a long sea voyage and meetin' a tall, dark and handsome man?" The vampire tried on a smirk but it wasn't very convincing.

The Host couldn't help but chuckle at that. "Well... there were other things there, but they were fuzzy... I couldn't really get a good hold on 'em them long enough to take a gander. All I can tell you is that it's sometime in the near future and it's good. Don't know what, don't know when, it's just... there. Oh, and... going back to what I just told you... it's not about you and the Slayer."

"No?" Fine creases of puzzlement formed on the blond's smooth forehead. "Well, then, if it's not her and it's good, then... what is it?"

"You'll just have to wait and see," Lorne said with an apologetic shrug. "Only this isn't like those presents under the tree, where you creep down the stairs while everybody's asleep and have a little lookie-loo... you really have to wait and see." Spike frowned, but nodded. "Hey, listen. You wanna hang around for a little while? Have some nog, kick back and listen to the vocal stylings... it might lift your spirits a bit?"

"I dunno..." Spike glanced over his shoulder to check out the stage again. This time a female vampire was mewling her way through a folk number. He winced.

"Oh, come on... it'll be fun! Beers and plasma on the house... all night? I feel just lousy about your reading. And hey... somebody brought in some gingerbread humans! You can bite their heads off..." Lorne added, turning the charm and persuasion taps on full blast, red eyes dancing with merriment. "Dip 'em in the blood? It'll be just as good as the real thing!"

"Well... yeah, all right. Guess I could stay for a bit." Spike gave Lorne a wan smile, the once rich blue of his eyes having turned a watery blue gray. Normally, the non-stop perkiness would have had him gritting his teeth and looking to do some bodily harm, but the Host meant well. It was, after all, his peek into the future that had led to his now dashed hopes.

He knew he wasn't welcome in Sunnydale, especially now after everything that had happened... and the Host's reading had pretty much just cinched it for him. Besides, it was late. He could crash in his car or something until sundown the next day and then be on his way back to fulfill his destiny as the Slayer's 'pal.' His face twisted into a moue of distaste at the thought of the word. After all he'd done, every single thing he'd tried to win her... he was relegated to being her pal.

"Swell! So... you sit, drink, maim innocent baked goods. I've got a thing," Lorne pointed towards the stage as he slipped off of his stool, reluctant to leave Spike by himself. The vampire nodded, keen eyes watching the bubbles in his beer, following each one as it bounced and bobbled around in the glass. Reaching out, the Host placed a hand on Spike's shoulder. "I'll be back."

"Right," Spike said shortly, taking another swig of his beer.

Thankful that the vampire was going to stick around, the Host went up onto the stage and called for a round of applause for the last Karaoke singer. He then segued into his own disco-inspired rendition of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Sleigh Ride," keeping an eye on the black clad figure hunched at the bar through both numbers. He couldn't help but feel for the big lug: to find out that his sweetheart wasn't ever going to be his sweetheart. So much for having a holly, jolly Christmas.

Once his set was over and he introduced the next audience member brave enough to climb aboard the mic, Lorne headed back to the bar, relieved to find that Spike hadn't left. He could see Chico was setting a small molded plastic cup of eggnog in front of the vampire, taking away the empty beer mug.

The Host took the seat next to Spike again just as the blond took a sip from the cup. The expression on Spike's face was instantaneous and extreme, as though he was doing all he could to keep from spitting the eggnog back out again.

"Chrissakes," he gritted out at last, placing the cup back on the bar. "Gimme another beer." Chico made no reply - he simply took the plastic cup away and went to fetch the vamp another beer.

"I take it you don't care for our refreshments of the holiday kind?" Lorne asked with a smirk as Spike stood up and leaned over the bar, snatched a cocktail napkin to wipe his mouth out with. There was the briefest glint of penitence in Spike's eyes, even as he set the sullied napkin aside. "Ah, don't worry, you're off the hook. Come to think of it, you weren't on one, to begin with. That stuff's terrible."

"Another Seabreeze, boss?" The bartender asked, setting Spike's beer on the coaster in front of him.

"Yeah, hit me with the good stuff, senor. Much obliged," Lorne said and tossed the human a wink. "So... you never told me your name, there, handsome. Was that because you'd rather keep things on an anonymous tip - which I'd understand, we get that a lot here - or was it merely an oversight?"

"Name?" There was that hesitant look again - not defensive so much as... incredulous. Genuinely puzzled as to why Lorne would want to know his name.

"Yeah, yours. You have one, right? Or are you one of the 'Artist Formerly Known As who we always called Prince, anyway, since we couldn't make heads or tales of that squiggly thing' types?"

"Spike." Spike wasn't quite sure what the Host was on about - artists and all that - but there was one thing he did know and that was his name, so he spit it out before it was lost in another tidal wave of the Host's blathering.

"Spike. Punky. I like it. It suits you," the Pylean replied, looking pleased as he considered the name and how nicely it complemented the creature sitting in front of him.

"Glad you approve," the vampire currently known as Spike said with a dry grin.

The Host held out his hand, smiling. "You can call me Lorne."

"Like Lorne Green?" Spike's brows furrowed for a moment as he shook with him. "From Bonanza?"

"You know, you're the second person - second vamp, actually - that's asked me that. Funny coincidence, but no, not like Lorne Greene."

"Oh... sorry."

"No harm done," Lorne waved him off amiably. The two sat in silence for a moment, gazing at one another. Something in the Host's eyes made the vampire avert his own, concentrating on the ever present mug of beer. Adorable. "So, are you feeling any better, yet? Or are you feeling the need to move on to firmer libations?"

"Thought I was," Spike said, pursing his lips. "The 'nog kinda shot my momentum all to hell, though." The loud, carefree laugh that came from Lorne at those words caused the blond to jump slightly, but he soon settled again. He was surprised and maybe even a bit grateful to find that the cheerful sound was soothing to his ears.

"If you don't mind my asking... apart from the Vampire Slayer doing a cha-cha all over your delicates, why did you decide to come here?"

"Just ... needed to get out. Away. Do some thinkin'," Spike's right shoulder met his ear in a lazy half shrug. "Maybe find some answers."

"I can understand that. For some reason, everyone thinks all the answers are here in LA An answer to that miserable marriage, an answer to a drought of faith, an answer as to how they can sell that script or meet this or that celeb. They should put that in the travel book. Forget the City of Angels. They should make it 'Los Angeles: City of Answers'."

"Yeah." The vampire ruminated on Lorne's reply for a moment when a thought occurred to him. "Why did you come to LA, then?" he asked, arching his brow.

"Me? Oh, I just had the dumb luck to get sucked through a dimensional portal in my homeworld," Lorne waved a hand, making it sound as though it was the easiest, most mundane thing in the world, like going to the laundromat or the corner grocery store. "Could have landed here, could have landed in the world without shrimp. Didn't know and didn't really care... have to say, though, landing here was better than if I'd just stayed where I started off."

"I know the feelin'," Spike murmured, lifting his mug.

'Doesn't seem to me it matters very much how you start out...'

He paused again when he realized that what the Host had just said was very similar to something he'd said to the Slayer's baby sister one day.

He'd been feeling frustrated and confused about his place in the Slayer's life, in her world - if he would ever have one - and Dawn had come to him with many of the same concerns and questions. They'd had a chat and realized that, for a glowy ball of energy and a former bloody awful poet, they weren't doing too damn bad for themselves.

Now, though, Spike wasn't so sure. Did he really have any reason to go back to Sunnydale? Especially now, that the Host had dumped the Powers' knowledge in his lap? Now that he knew that things between he and Buffy could never be as he most wanted them to be?

All the signs pointed towards 'no'... that he wouldn't go back. So if not back to Sunnydale, then where would he go? It wasn't just a case of spinning a globe and pointing, as he'd done in the days when he still had Dru at his side. There were other things to consider. Like the chip and how dangerous it could be for him to run off at the mouth to a bunch of humans and get himself staked.

When he looked at it that way, though... he didn't really see a point to even bothering to exist.

"Uh-oh... I know that look," Lorne said, tone rife with dread. "And, before you say it - yeah, I know I don't really 'know' you... but I've seen that look on so many other faces that pass through here. You're probably wondering: 'What do I do now, now that I know the Slayer's not gonna be my honey?'"

"Yeah," Spike said defensively. "So what if I am? You gettin' anything from the Powers about a good career track for a neutered vampire, 'cause if so, feel free to clue me in, anytime."

"Just because you can't bite doesn't mean you no longer have any purpose," Lorne said gently. He reached out and placed his hand on Spike's arm. "Biting isn't all you are. Evil isn't all you were. It's not all you can or are ever gonna be, either. There's more for you out there. More, I think, that you can even realize."

"They showed you all that, too?" The blond looked rather taken aback by Lorne's candor.

"Nah. That's just a complimentary side order of optimism to go with that tasty eggnog," he said with a grin. Spike let out a short huff of a laugh.

The Host sat there quietly for several moments, gazing at the blond and was pleasantly surprised at how attractive the vampire was when he smiled. After dealing with Angel, he'd discovered that he'd had enough of sour-pussed vamps. What was the point of being beautiful forever if you always looked as though you were suffering from a serious bout of constipation?

"Listen, you wanna come go with me? It's almost closing time and they're gonna kick everybody out, soon. We could talk a little more... if you want?"

"Go where? Back to your place?" Spike asked, narrowing his eyes at the other demon in suspicion.

"No, I meant to the phone booth outside. Yeah, my place," Lorne said archly. "It's close. No pressure, though."

Spike was quiet for several moments as he weighed his options. What harm could it do? It had been a long time since he'd had a good chat with somebody... anybody. "Yeah, all right. Let's do that."

"Great! The boys will take care of everything - closing up, cleaning up and all that good stuff - so we could go now, if you want?"

"Fine," he shrugged, finishing off the last couple of mouthfuls of his beer as he slid off of his stool, patting his pockets to make sure he didn't forget his cigarettes or anything else.

As he stood, Lorne handed Chico his glass and tried his damnedest to ignore the knowing smile on the brute's face. Rolling red eyes, he motioned for the vampire to follow him.

Up a narrow staircase by the entrance that was hidden by a curtain he hadn't noticed before, Spike was led up to the Host's inner sanctum.

"I thought you said we were goin' to your place?" he asked, eyes fixed on the back of the hideous green suit ahead of him.

"We are..." Lorne opened the door at the top of the steps and flipped a light switch. The small apartment was instantly bathed in soft light. On Spike's look, he replied, "Well, I said it was close!"

Along one wall, Spike could see several aquariums filled with tropical fish built into the wall and watched as the tall demon made his way over to the tanks. He pulled a container of fish food down from a shelf and shook a bit into his palm, pushing a panel back to reveal the tops of the tanks. The Host tutted and muttered to himself as he sprinkled food into each tank, brushing his hands together when he finished to rid them of the dust.

Spike was still lingering in the doorway - out of an odd sense of politeness as much as from the fact that he couldn't come in until invited. True, Caritas was a public place, but this was the Host's home. Different story, altogether.

"Oh, sorry. Had to feed the kids first. Where are my manners? Please, come in. Make yourself at home," Lorne said as he pulled off his knit scarf and draped it around the neck of a pink flamingo statue made of neon tubing. The Host disappeared through a doorway which presumably led to the kitchen and Spike could hear the sound of a fridge door opening and the sounds of Lorne puttering around.

Spike inched his way into the apartment and tried to do as Lorne suggested; he slipped out of his duster and hanging it on the coat rack beside the door.

The couch was leather and, just like the flamingo, it was pink... although, really, it was more mauve than pink. The rest of the furniture was almost tropically themed - probably to do with the fish, Spike reasoned. Molded bamboo coffee and end tables, lamps that looked as though they were made out of some sort of shells, with matching mauve lampshades, while the walls were painted a rich sea green color.

Spike was so busy taking in his surroundings that he was surprised when he felt something cold and wet brush against the back of his arm. He turned sharply on his heel, to find Lorne holding two beers.

"Whoa! Easy, there, Bruce Lee. It's just Heineken... unless you've got some serious childhood trauma relating to this particular brand of beer?" The Host smirked as he held out one of the bottles.

"Nah, that's all right, I guess." Spike chuckled as he took the beer.

"Oh, right. You're British. You guys have got that thing about beer, huh? It's okay; you don't have to drink it just because I gave it to you."

"No, this is okay," the vampire replied easily. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," Lorne smiled as he clinked the neck of his bottle against Spike's and took a sip. The two of them stood there, an awkward silence looming between them. "So... just so you know, I don't do this very often."

"What's that?" Spike asked, bringing his own bottle to his lips.

"Oh, you know. Pick up people from the bar - especially the ones I've done readings for."

A fine mist of beer was shot into the air as Spike pulled a perfect spit take, clapping his hand over his mouth. He immediately began coughing, fist curled in front of his mouth to muffle the sound and Lorne came to stand beside him, patting him on the back.

"Hey, are you all right? First time I've ever seen one of those in person. Have to say, it was pretty impressive," Lorne joked, referring to Spike's rather emphatic reaction.

"Yeah...'m fine," he replied, wiping at his mouth. "You... you're pickin' me up?"

"Well, yeah! I thought that was kinda obvious. Unless... oh, god. Are you -- you're not ... you're not? Oh, no! God, I'm sorry!" The Host drew back, horrified that he might have read the vampire so very incorrectly. "You'd think the Powers would give me a hint or something, wouldn't you? Jeez!"

"Now, hold on... I'm not sayin' that I'm not," Spike shook his head. "I'm just... why me?"

"Actually, as it happens, I've got a thing for strays... and seeing as how you and your Bunny -- "

"Buffy," the blond corrected him.

"Buffy, my mistake... are kaput, that maybe..." Lorne trailed off with a sigh. "I mean, you were just sitting there... looking like somebody had just drop kicked your puppy onto the freeway at rush hour... and it was all my fault."

"So... you're doin' this 'cause you feel bad for me? Outta pity, is that it?" Spike asked, brows knitting together as he frowned. "Take pity on the sad vamp in love with a slayer, is that what you had in mind? 'Cause I won't be anybody's charity case, St. Nick or no St. Nick."

"No! God, no! Not pity. I just ... I felt bad." The Host's shoulders slumped visibly at those words. "It's not pity, it's not charity and I didn't ask you here because of that niggly little voice of my conscience telling me that I should ask you up out of some funky sense of obligation. It's none of those things."

Leaning over, Lorne set his beer down on the coffee table. As he straightened, he stuck his hands into his trouser pockets.

"I do feel bad... but that's not the reason I asked you up here," he said finally. "I... I really like you. Even though you're ... antisocial and not big on the whole tact thing." He mustered up his courage and drew closer to Spike, coming to stand toe to toe with the shorter demon. "I've got a thing for sob stories and yours is the best one I've heard in a long time... but that's not why I asked you up here."

"That's a lot of reasons why you didn't ask me up here," Spike said quietly, picking at the label on his beer bottle. "Could you give me a couple as to why you did?"

"Because..." Lorne began thoughtfully, "I've been where you are, right now. Not knowing where you belong or even if you belong... and I know how much it can hurt." As he spoke, he reached up, green fingers ghosting along the curve of a delicate cheekbone, not quite touching.

"Anything else?" Spike asked, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed, eyes never leaving Lorne's.

"Your eyes. They're so... blue," he whispered, leaning in to brush his lips lightly against Spike's.

"Got a real sweet talker on my hands, here," the blond chuckled as he leaned to one side for just a moment to set his beer down next to Lorne's. As he straightened, he cupped the taller demon's face in his hands and drew him in for a deep kiss, surprising the both of them in the process. "Got a bedroom around here, someplace?"

"Ohh, I thought you'd never ask," Lorne groaned, arms snaking their way around the slender vampire's waist, pulling him close.

"They were right," Spike said as they both stumbled back towards the bedroom.

"Who was right and about what?" he asked, pale fingers catching on his own green ones as he tried to undo the knot in his holly tie.

"The Powers. They said somethin' good was on its way. You said you couldn't see what it was... all you knew was that it was soon and that it'd be good." Cool lips glided over his cheek and he could feel them pull back into a bright smile. "You didn't know what it was... you couldn't see it... 'cause it was you."


"Babababum... bababababum... I wanna be sedated..."

"Boss... hey, boss? You in there? Boss?"

"Huh?" The Host blinked, snapping out from the vision like a rubber band stretched a bit too far, and turned to find Chico eyeing him with a mix of concern and amusement. "What was that?"

"I said, are you all right?" the bartender repeated slowly.

"Oh, yeah. Yeah, sure. I'm fine, really," he threw a reassuring smile Chico's way as he looked down the length of the bar.

A small, bleach blond vamp was sitting in the shadows. Head bowed, his fingers tapped out the rhythm of an old punk tune as he hummed and nodded along. It was as if he didn't care for the performers up on the stage and so he had to make his own entertainment.

Lorne knew, without even seeing the vamp's face, that it would be the same one from his vision. The one who was in love with the Slayer. Knew his name was Spike. Knew that the Powers had led he and Spike together and what would happen.

And he smiled.


"Yeah, boss?"

"Get a beer for the gent in black, down at the end, wouldja?"